I fancy myself somewhat of a cook. Of course that skill has evolved over the years and my husband is quick to tell the tale of my first apple pie. The resulting coat of flour on the floor and cabinets made the idea of “homemade from frozen” much more appealing. Thanks to the Food Network and my need to overachieve, I have honed my skills since staying home.
When I had my fourth son on November 14 a few years back, I wanted to celebrate by doing something different and outstanding for Thanksgiving. My goal to serve a deboned, stuffed turkey for my family of six and visiting in-laws quickly became an “I can do this” obsession.
The week before I practiced deboning just about everything I could find (we didn’t have the doggies yet). When the time came to debone the Thanksgiving bird, I spent the better part of an hour working to extract every piece of cartilage and bone that might have taken away from the “oohs and ahhhs” I expected to hear as I came out to the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Sure enough, when it came time to serve dinner, everything was wonderful. The turkey was beautiful on its platter, albeit smaller given the absence of bones. The turkey’s breasts were perfectly browned, the legs actually edible by adults since they were stuffed individually and sliced, and everyone gave me the praise I’d needed for my ego.
Everyone except two little boys pulled up to the holiday table. Jacob and Sammy sat with just their little heads bobbing above the table, with their crystal water glasses, linen napkins and fine china; looking very, very, sad.
“What’s wrong?” asked their Bubbie (Yiddish for Grandma).
“Where’s the big one?” asked Jacob, at tear welling up in his eye.
“What big one?” I said between moments of patting myself on the back.
“The big turkey” both Jake and Sam said without hesitation.
“You know mom-the big turkey like they always show on the TV commercials; like the pictures from last year and like on the Charlie Brown special. Where’s the BIG TURKEY?”
It was that moment that I knew I’d blown it. I’d turned the holiday into something I’d wanted focused on me instead of allowing the tradition of the day to carry the family through.
That was the last Thanksgiving I served anything other than the BIG turkey. As we speak my big turkey is defrosting in the sink ready to be brined and rubbed for cooking. The family picked out the type pies we’re going to fix, the veggies they’ll be chopping and how they want the potatoes fixed. It won’t be like Emeril’s dining room but I’m smart enough to not make the same mistake twice.
However you make your turkey this year, I hope it is served with platters of love and hope, charity and goodwill, and sprinkled with generous portions of health and happiness. As we enter the holiday season may you and your family always be on the winning side of the wishbone.
Parenting Tip of the Day:
Some churches open their doors and provide holiday breakfasts for the homeless. My husband and I are taking the boys down to cook pancakes in the morning at a local church and then coming home for dinner. I’m hoping it will really help us understand everything we have to be thankful for. I’ve read that tons of young people believe that volunteering is important, but fewer than ever do so. If you can, take the time to show our kids how much they can impact our world. Even a January neighborhood food drive and trip to the local food bank is a tremendous learning experience (and great winter break project). Show them what a difference they can make.